I would highly recommend Brennan Manning’s “The Ragamuffin Gospel.” It is truly one of the best books that I have ever read – and I very much am looking forward to reading Manning’s memoirs next (look for my review on “All is Grace” in the coming weeks). I was fortunate enough to be provided a copy of “Ragamuffin” in a special re-release directly from the publisher for review purposes. You can pre-order a paperback copy for under $16 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Ragamuffin-Gospel-Bedraggled-Beat-Upnd-publication/dp/B003HZWI1O/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1323467227&sr=8-2) or directly from the publisher at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781590525029.
My favorite chapter was titled “Something is Radically Wrong.” He contrasts the two accounts that are listed back-to-back in Luke’s Gospel. The Bible reads, “Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.17 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it'” (Luke 18:15-17, ESV).
Manning writes, “[But then] a rich young man comes to Jesus, asking what he must DO to inherit eternal life. He wants to be in the spotlight. It is no coincidence that Luke juxtaposes the passage of Jesus and the children immediately preceding the verses on the young aristocrat. Children contrast with the rich man simply because there is no question of their having yet been able to merit anything. Jesus’ point is, there is nothing that any of us can do to inherit the kingdom. We must simply receive it like little children. And little children haven’t done anything. The New Testament world was not sentimental about children and had no illusion about any pretended innate goodness in them. Jesus is not suggesting that heaven is a huge playground for Cajun infants. Children are our model because they have no claim on heaven. If they are close to God, it is because they are incompetent, not because they are innocent. IF they receive anything, it can only be as a gift” (26-27).
The author goes on to suggest, “Jesus sat down at table with anyone who wanted to be present, including those who were banished from decent homes. In the sharing of a meal they received consideration instead of the expected condemnation. A merciful acquittal instead of a hasty verdict of guilty. Amazing grace instead of universal disgrace. Here is a very practical demonstration of the law of grace – a new chance in life” (29).
So what “tables” are our churches setting? Is their a difference between being attractional and being invitational? Is it the church leadership, ministry, or program that is expected to send the message or should it be the church – the people who make up the church – who are scattered all over the community and primarily entrusted to be “grace-ful”? Do we believe that the gospel is enough so much so that we are willing to go anywhere and do almost anything?
Official Book Description: A Furious Love Is Hot on Your Trail!
Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment. In this newly repackaged edition—now with full appendix, study questions, and the author’s own epilogue, “Ragamuffin Ten Years Later,” Brennan Manning reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. The Father beckons us to Himself with a “furious love” that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the “ragamuffins.”
Are you bedraggled, beat-up, burnt-out?
Most of us believe in God’s grace—in theory. But somehow we can’t seem to apply it in our daily lives. We continue to see Him as a small-minded bookkeeper, tallying our failures and successes on a score sheet.
Yet God gives us His grace, willingly, no matter what we’ve done. We come to Him as ragamuffins—dirty, bedraggled, and beat-up. And when we sit at His feet, He smiles upon us, the chosen objects of His “furious love.”
Brennan Manning ’s now-classic meditation on grace and what it takes to access it—simple honesty—has changed thousands of lives. Now with a Ragamuffin’s thirty-day spiritual journey guide, it will change yours, too.
Includes New 30-Day Spiritual Journey Guide
Official Author Biography: Brennan Manning is a Korean War veteran and former Franciscan priest who lives in New Orleans , Louisiana . A native of Brooklyn , Manning earned degrees in philosophy from St. Francis College and in theology from St. Francis Seminary. His books include The Signature of Jesus and Abba’s Child. Still traveling widely, Manning continues to write and preach, encouraging men and women everywhere to accept and embrace the good news of God’s unconditional love in Jesus Christ.